Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the weather’s got colder, many of us have turned the heating on already – and probably won’t be turning the thermostat down until after February!
Although energy prices are falling, the average family still spends over £1000 a year on gas and electricity, which is no small sum.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to cut your energy costs without shivering all winter. If you want to keep warm without breaking the bank, here are five top tips.
Maximise your radiators
How many of us have our sofa up against the radiator in the living room? It might be keeping the back of your sofa toasty warm, but the heat won’t get much further than that. Moving furniture away from the radiators, even just a few inches, lets the heat circulate through the room and warm it properly, as well as saving on damage to your furniture.
To make your radiators work even harder, consider investing in radiator panels; reflective panels you put behind a radiator to reflect more heat into the room – these really do make a difference: using them on every radiator in your house can cut your heating bills by as much as 15%! And if you don’t fancy buying them, you can achieve a similar effect by lining the wall behind your radiators with tin-foil.
Stop losing heat
You may already use draught excluders to keep heat from escaping under doors, but what about your windows? Even with double glazing, thin curtains or blinds can let heat out. Consider replacing yours with a heavier option to keep the warmth in the room, or line them with a thermal lining – a cheap fleece material will do.
And curtains aren’t just for windows! Try placing them over external doors for extra draught exclusion, as well as a bit of interior design flair. However, don’t keep curtains or blinds drawn in the day, as sunlight will warm your rooms up naturally.
Don’t heat what you don’t need
If you have a spare bedroom or second bathroom that’s rarely used, turn radiators off in those rooms, and shut the doors to them so that heat from the rest of the house doesn’t escape into them either. It might be unpleasant if you have to nip in to find something, but it’ll be worth it for the savings!
Additionally, if you have radiators in the halls or corridors of your home, these can be turned down slightly – if not shut off altogether – as you’ll only ever be passing through them for a couple of minutes at a time.
Professional home insulation can be costly, but DIY loft insulation is relatively cheap and simple. Foam insulation is cheap, and three 8inch rolls should be enough to give most lofts a decent layer of insulation. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, and wear protective clothing and goggles to stay safe, though.
Another part of your house to insulate is the hot water tank and pipes. You can buy a jacket for the tank and foam tubes for the pipes, both of which are easy to fit, and will keep the heat inside the pipes – so it heats the water, not your airing cupboard.
It’s all about timing
It’s a basic tip, but putting the thermostat on a timer is a great way to make sure you’re only heating the house when it’s needed. Set the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up and 20 minutes before you get home from work, and you’ll feel toasty 24/7 without having to think about it.
Additionally, try to keep the heat setting at 18C – this is the temperature that most of us should feel warm in a jumper and jeans, and ensuring your heating doesn’t go above this temperature often will save you cash. If it seems too cold at first, try bringing the temperature down 1 degree every few days until you’re acclimatised.
Liberty is writing on behalf of Lifestyle Blinds.
With winter rapidly approaching, it might be a good time to improve the energy-efficiency of your home. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, but it could help you save money throughout the cold spell – so check out these five simple tips:
Take a look at your Energy Performance Certificate
If you have recently moved home, or were thinking of selling up, you might have access to a recent Energy Performance Certificate. This will include information about your property’s energy use and typical energy costs as well as recommendations about how to make your home more eco-friendly. Take a look at these suggestions, as you could find several ways to reduce your outgoings when the temperatures drop.
Arrange a boiler service
The cold weather is sure to set in over the next few months, so why not book a gas boiler service in good time? An approved engineer will make sure everything’s running properly and will replace any broken or damaged parts if necessary. If your boiler cover’s in date, don’t forget to check the conditions of the policy, because annual gas inspections are often included.
Switch to energy-saving light bulbs
If your house is lit up like Vegas throughout winter (particularly at Christmas), try to use energy-saving light bulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, compact flourescents are a great alternative to traditional bulbs and LEDs can replace 50W halogen downlighters – so see what you can find. While we are on the subject of lighting, try to turn all switches off when you leave a room and use candles and lamps whenever possible to reduce your energy output.
Insulate your home
Does your house get a little chilly from time-to-time? Are there cold winds blowing around? If so, take steps to insulate your home. Get hold of some self-adhesive sealant strips to close up gaps and buy special foam to spray between doors and windows. Once that’s done, fit draught excluders to your letterbox and underneath your doors and buy yourself a keyhole cover. A few small changes can make a big difference, so it’s worth taking action – sooner rather than later.
Bleed your radiators
If your radiators are warm at the bottom and cold at the top, there might be an air bubble trapped in the system. This blockage is called an airlock and can stop your central heating from working properly. To solve the problem, try bleeding your radiators by turning the bleed valve anticlockwise and waiting for the air to hiss out. Once water emerges, tighten everything back up and check things are working as they should be. Still having issues? Then ask your insurance company to send out one of their qualified heating engineers.
Winter is just around the corner, so do all you can to make your house energy-efficient.
The 2 Degrees Network today reported on Marks & Spencers’ new ‘eco-store’ at Cheshire Oaks on the edge of Liverpool. The new store is the biggest they have ever built and, according to M&S, one of the world’s largest sustainable retail stores.
Under their Corporate Sustainability programme, Plan A, M&S have set out 180 sustainability commitments they intend to achieve by 2015 ‘with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer’. Around 20 of these commitments relate to the impact of their property and so the new store is an important step for reducing the impact of the retail estate.
The new store employs the sustainability knowledge M&S have built up through their ‘learning store’ at Ecclesall Road, Sheffield. Sustainability features include the use of a FSC certified wood roof structure instead of steel, rainwater harvesting to fulfill 20% of its water needs, zero construction waste to landfill, roof windows and LEDs to reduce energy used for lighting, and hemp clad panels containing less embodied carbon than mainstream materials. The store also uses 20% renewable energy (from offsite sources) and boasts a ‘local sustainable urban draining’ system.
For more background read the original article here: M&S’ greenest store sets agenda for future designs